Sitting down to watch one of the Sky channels the other day, I happened to catch a programme about the opening of the M1 motorway back in 1959 – and it was bizarre to see that it was only then that cars could travel legally at 70 mph for the first time! In those days this was a ripping speed, literally unheard of. Of course, we’re talking the era of Vauxhall Cresta, Triumph TR3, MG, Jaguar and so on, when most of the cars had disc brakes, no power steering and a total brake horse power of just 100.
Moving on 58 years and we now have 300 mph+ super cars. OK, these are not your everyday car, nor are they for the masses, but it’s the technology that goes into these vehicles that’s so amazing. Try stopping at 300mph – your bog standard brakes won’t suffice, so now we are talking carbon fibre, with disks as big as the average wheel on a family car, and that’s without all the additional electronic technology used.
Another big change is the cost: a fast car of the late 1950s, perhaps an E-type Jag, would have cost around £5,000. Today you’d be paying in excess of £1.2m for a top performer, so they are definitely only for the chosen few on the planet!
You’ll find that these are not cars that you can just jump into and go for a test drive, and even starting them up is like being put into a space shuttle. Driving them is also a real challenge, and most likely you’d have to receive a day’s training just to drive them to the shops. The big question is, can cars get even faster? The answer is YES, and it’s all because electric is waiting in the wings. Electric cars have an amazing 0-100 speed, and even the cars listed here would struggle against a powerful performance electric car up to 100 mph. The leader of fastest fully-electric road car is currently the Tesla S P100D which can achieve 0-60 in 2.5 seconds. You never know – at this rate, within another 10 years we may get to travel fast enough to go ‘back to the future!’